Democrat Barack Obama looked headed for a crushing defeat to Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's West Virginia primary but was already cranking up a general-election battle against Republican John McCain.
The former first lady was on course for a thumping win in the rural, coal-mining state, according to the latest polls, but that was unlikely to break Obama's stranglehold on the Democrats' White House nomination.
After a token campaign effort in West Virginia, Obama was headed this week to November swing states such as Missouri, Florida and Michigan to pursue a presidential election match-up against McCain.
Obama went into the latest primary of the Democrats' epic nominating contest ratcheting up the expectations game against Clinton.
"I think (former) president (Bill) Clinton said that they are going to get 80 percent of the vote. We'll take him at his word," he said late Monday.
But Hillary Clinton insisted the path to the presidency lay through West Virginia as she pursued her argument that Obama's struggle to win over working-class voters made him damaged goods for November.
"West Virginia has a record of picking presidents," she said at a campaign stop here late Monday. "A Democrat doesn't win the White House without winning West Virginia. So tomorrow it's going to be your turn."